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The Boston Shaker + Strainer

The Boston Shaker + Strainer

As a Martini aficionado, one thing that I hear crop up from time to time is the phrase:

“Don’t Bruise The Gin.”

Unbeknownst to fellow tippling fan Brandon, he touched on this very topic when responding to my blog post “How do you take yours?

Now, I’ll happily admit that I’m sesquipedalian more often that not, and there’s just no other way to put it:

The notion of bruising gin is irksome to me.

First up, what does “don’t bruise the gin” even mean?

The Simple Answer:
Don’t shake it.

The Loquacious Answer:
Part One – Bruising Gin: The juniper berries and herbs used to flavor Gin are supposedly delicate things. Jostling the Gin about in a Boston Shaker can damage these delicate flavors, much like dropping a peach or an apple on the ground.
 -Response: Total crap.  Do know how much shaking occurs just getting that bottle to the store shelf?
Part Two – Bruising Ice: Vigorously tossing ice about in a shaker will result in the ice releasing tiny chips.  Pedants refer to this as “bruising” ice.
 -Response: If you have cryophobia, what are you doing ordering a cocktail?
Part Three – Bruising the Libation: Supercilious individuals believe that only Flips, Fizz’, and fruity cocktails should be shaken.  Everything else must be stirred.
 -Response: If you believe this, go away. Seriously.

I love to hate this quote:

With cocktails that are spirits, liqueurs and fortified wines only, they should be stirred, not shaken, because over-oxidation makes the whole inferior to the sum of the parts.

That was spoken by Mr. Wortman on the “askmen” website. And it’s complete bullshit.

Believe it or not, laboratory studies have been done on the benefits of shaking versus stirring. Yes, shaking causes a higher level of oxidation in the liquid; however, this releases chemical compounds from the drink itself and increases the level of antioxidants. Beneficial stuff there.

And while, yes, higher oxidation can alter the flavor of the cocktail, you’d have to be the world’s best super-taster to actually notice the difference.  With the amount of water and flavors present, a slight increase in oxidized alcohol molecules will simply NOT register on your tongue.

It all really comes down to two things:

First: Chill factor. A good hard shake with hard ice (large cubes) will chill your beverage quickly and thoroughly.  Stirring takes markedly longer to chill as much as shaking.  And: achieving the same level of chill with either method results in the same dilution.  (Personally, I wanna drink NOW and like little ice chips.)

Second: Presentation.  A hard shake will introduce tiny little bubbles to your libation.  Stirring does no such thing.  Clear cocktails should remain clear, so shaking is gauche and can appear amateur.  No argument from me here. This is a truism.

My advice:

If you want a slowly prepared cocktail with no little air bubbles and no ice chips, ask for your cocktail to be gently stirred.

If you want your drink now, ask for it shaken.

If you want your drink now but don’t want bubbles, ask for it shaken and let it sit on the bar for 11 seconds before looking at it.

But if I hear you telling me “Don’t bruise the ice,” I’ll tell you:

Get out of my bar.